Citysearch sued for click fraud

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The Los Angeles-based law firm Kabateck Brown Kellner LLP has filed a suit in a California Superior Court against online local search and directory company Citysearch for alleged click fraud.

The class action complaint was filed on behalf of Tom Lambotte, owner of a business called San Diego Mac Tutor, as well as “all persons or entities in the United States who paid money for pay-per-click advertising through Citysearch.com.” The lawsuit alleges that IAC-owned Citysearch encouraged abuse of its advertising service by “looking the other way.”

“I've been very interested in the whole click fraud problem for several years,” said Brian Kabateck, the lead attorney on the case, when reached by phone. Kabateck has sued Google and Yahoo for click fraud in the past. Both settled, he said, adding that he also has a new case pending against Google.

“I think that a lot of people who engage in click advertising are small businesses who put money into it kind of blindly, not knowing how it works — and what happens behind the curtain is often a mystery and there's a lot of blind faith,” Kabateck said. “So it's important that somebody be vigilant and keep an eye on these companies.”

According to the lawsuit, Lambotte entered into a formal contract with Citysearch in December 2007 for placement of pay-per-click advertising. After two weeks, Lambotte allegedly saw no increase in business or traffic to his Web site. After contacting a Citysearch account manager about canceling his account, Lambotte saw a “sudden and unexplained influx of clicks” over the span of five days, according to the suit. Lambotte allegedly contested the charges but Citysearch refused to reverse them.

“Citysearch actively enforces a strict click fraud policy, with advanced processes and technology in place to identify invalid click activity affecting our customers' advertising,” said Nicole Myden, a Citysearch spokeswoman, when reached by e-mail. “The lawsuit filed against Citysearch has no merit, and we will defend against it vigorously,” she added.

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